Jon Jones entered his latest defense of the UFC light heavyweight title as a huge favorite against Vitor Belfort and he didn't disappoint. "Bones" defended the belt for the fourth time, further establishing his dominance over the division.
Even though Jones was expected to win the fight, it took on a little more importance than normal because he garnered a lot of negative attention after turning down a fight with Chael Sonnen. He needed a win to get out of the negative spotlight.
The 25-year-old New York native has quickly become one of the most well-known MMA stars in the world alongside fighters like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, so the last thing he needed was to watch his title reign get derailed by a minor controversy.
Jones clearly put that all behind him before Saturday night's bout and took care of business against Belfort, who just isn't on the same level as the champ right now.
As the UFC continues to grow and carve out a spot in the national sports scene, Jones has the chance to become a superstar. He's the type of exciting fighter who can help take the entire sport to the next level if he keeps on his current track.
He's had a few issues outside of the ring but, as fans have proven in other leagues, they are willing to look beyond that. As long as Jones has learned from his mistakes, it shouldn't be an issue moving forward in his career.
At this point, it's all about winning. While beating a veteran like Belfort won't exactly turn heads, it's another step toward prominence for Jones. The victory moved his record to 17-1, with the only loss coming by disqualification.
That type of outstanding performance breeds interest. Every title defense will lead to a little more hype surrounding UFC and should make Jones a bigger star. He's already make great strides and his career is still young.
So even though his win at UFC 152 might not seem like much on the surface, it's actually another step toward what's shaping up to be a tremendous career for Jones. A loss would have been a major setback.
There will be much bigger fights in the future for Jones, but he did what he needed to do on Saturday night.